International Women's Day
The United Nations designated this day as International Women's Day in 1977, with the aim of drawing the world's attention to the various unique issues faced by women and to ensure the respect of their human, civil, political and economic rights.
The grim reality remains that despite all the efforts of the United Nations and its specialized agencies on tackling issues on women rights, as well as the efforts of governments, national, regional and international organizations, reports continue to indicate that violations of Women's rights are the most widespread in the world, largely due to impunity for violence and crimes against women.
Within that context, the theme of this year's celebration is "I am Generation Equality: Realizing women's rights" , coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive and visionary road map for the empowerment of women and girls around the world. The visionary agenda highlights various issues that need to be immediately tackled such as the issue of equal pay, end to sexual harassments and violence against women and girls, and their equal participation in political life and in decision-making processes.
It must be emphasized that despite the progress made over the past 100 years, many obstacles still remain prominent, subsequently hindering the realization of equality, peace-building and sustainable development.
In the domain of decision-making processes, progress has been made in regards to women's political participation. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in 2018, women made up 25% of the world's deputies, a great qualitative shift over the past 10 years, considering that there were only 13.1% of female parliamentarians in 2000.
Nevertheless, the desired gender balance in political action has not been achieved, particularly noting that the percentage of women who hold high political positions such as the head of state or the head of government is less than 10 percent , and in countries of the Middle East and North Africa, the percentage of women who have won parliamentary seats during the 2010 was 11.7%.
It is no longer acceptable to dismiss violence against women and girls as a personal issue, but rather a public affair. Furthermore, it is not permissible to invoke cultural barriers and societal norms to justify these gross and heinous human rights violations. Hence, it is necessary to utilize all means, national, regional and international, to protect women and girls from violence in all its forms.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was ratified and joined by a total of 189 countries, presents women, individually and collectively, the right to file complaints concerning issues directly violating their rights to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women after the exhaustion of national protection mechanisms.
While the Geneva Institute for Human Rights welcomes the fact that most countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, with the exception of Sudan and Somalia, have ratified said convention, it urges governments to ensure the implementation of the provisions emanating from the Convention and withdraw reservations made that contradict the objective and purpose of the agreement.
Similarly, the celebration of International Women's Day this year takes place as the 20th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Security and Peace approaches. The Resolution recognized the impact of armed conflict on women and emphasized their importance in international peace and security, particularly the importance of their role in the prevention of violent conflict, negotiation processes and post conflict peace keeping.
Therefore, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights urges all states to fulfil the Women, Peace and Security objectives through the adoption of National Action Plans focused on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and take all measures to ensure its full and effective implementation on the ground.
Through its various programs, activities and projects, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights affirms its commitment to women's issues around the world with a special focus on the Middle East and North Africa, a region where women continue to suffer the consequences of inequality and discrimination, which consequently subjects them to many forms of human rights violations.
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights praises the 'highlight' initiative launched by the United Nations and the European Union, which focuses on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, placing it at the forefront of efforts to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment, in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Much more needs to be done to eliminate gender discrimination, especially with new threats emerging, such as climate change, widespread food insecurity, terrorism and the global financial crisis.
Thus, the Institute calls for a holistic approach, that takes into account social dynamics and promotes behavioral change.